“Who ever wins, we lose” boasts the tagline for Paul W. Anderson’s first film in the hotly anticipated franchise mash up, and it’s not wrong – we did lose any way you look at it.
Its no surprise that when the second film came along in 2007, some 3 years after the original, people didn’t hold out much hope it could undo the whole Alien on earth fiasco it was left to follow on from, and that the little known ‘Brothers Strauss’ were unlikely to be the directing duo to redeem a franchise whose first film had single handily destroyed two decades worth of anticipation and hype in 90minutes.
Ultimately Aliens vs Predator: Requiem (or AVP2) was not well received to say the least.
Its undeniable, that given the potential of the franchise, both AVP films are fully deserving of their criticism, however, in a rather retrospective review, I would actually state, on record, that once you get past what could have been ‘Requiem’ is actually a somewhat enjoyable creature movie by genre standards.
The plot continues straight off the back of the farcical first and we see the ‘birthing’ of the Pred-Alien (a predator/alien hybrid) aboard the Predator ship. Once the thing gets out, and fully grown (which oddly takes no time at all) it kills the predators onboard forcing the ship to crash down to earth. Once on earth its Alien cargo, including some captive ‘face-huggers’ escape and begin to colonise a small town in the rural US. In response, a lone predator leaves his planet for earth to ‘clean’ up the mess, whilst the town attempt to make sense of their situation and survive the onslaught.
And so, as the title credits fade the criticism begins. The characters, a poor mix of angst-ridden teens, clichéd backwoods law enforcement, the ‘strong’ female soldier which the Alien franchise has become synonymous with and a young girl which might as well have been called Newt. The script plays out like a typical teen slasher, and most of the subplots seem to involve college love lives, a sheriff looking for lost town folk and then, well a lot of running away from Aliens and Predators. There is little in the way of tension, and despite the Brothers Strauss clearly wanting to ensure there were as many nods and references to the other films in both the Alien and Predator franchises, it seemed to break lore all over the place, despite its good intentions – oh and for whatever reason the film is really, really dark at times on DVD, and only marginally better on the Blu-ray disc.
There is no way round it, from a technical perspective, Alien vs Predator: Requiem is every bit of a B-movie entry into a high-profile franchise as its reviews say it to be, however, I believe when taken as such, there is still some enjoyment to be had.
The PG13 efforts of its predecessor have been turned R-Rated. There is nothing but action from start to finish, and in place of its wafer-thin story and limited character development comes action; diverse and bloody action –admittedly even some of that is in poor taste! (I mean, pred-alien in a maternity ward, was it really necessary?) We get to see wall to wall carnage. Imagine a genre creature movie with some 20+ kills, all shown in high-fidelity with a studio budget, well that’s what we’ve got here. I really enjoyed the monster on monster showdowns which occur numerous times through the film with green acidic blood being spurted everywhere, and to an extent, being a lifelong fan of slasher movies, I could get on board with the films disposable characters being, well disposable. It was great to see the predator utilise his classic arsenal, and some new stuff on what can only be described as a shooting gallery as he dispatches alien and human with equal abandon, Whilst the pred-alien’s -pissed off rastapharian visuals looked daft (I mean, I can accept that it might have some of the predators genotype in there, but its hairstyle to?!), the regular ‘drones’ remain as terrifying as they always have. There are some set pieces reminiscent of now classic scenes from the earlier movies, including some skinned alive characters and an Alien vs. Marine standoff scene which looked cool, even if it didn’t come close to similar scenes set elsewhere in the franchise.
Overall, I remain torn over my enjoyment of AVP: Requiem. On the one hand, there is no defence of its criticism, it is a film deficient of decent plot and characterisation, and in its place its rewards viewers with bloody and unnecessary levels of violence that have all the subtly of slapping someone round the face with a bloody flannel. But therein lies the source of my conflict, I love films which are bloody and have unnecessary levels of violence. So, to conclude, as an Alien or Predator film, its shit, but taken as a monster mashup B movie, it’s a fun 90 minutes.
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